I am a "go with the flow" person when it comes to travel for photography purposes, but I know that a lot of you guys like to plan and schedule their itinerary, especially when you're visiting a country for the first time. I wrote this blog, so you can discover an exciting place in Tokyo, a very street photo friendly place.
I have recently posted a video on my Youtube channel concerning Tokyo's best spots (Top 10) to take photographs, and since I really had a blast creating this video, I thought it would be interesting to push a little further and present other places in the Japanese Capital, this time with a focus on street photography. If you consider New York as one of the best street photography destinations in the world, Tokyo is probably the second. Let me prove it to you. (follow me on Instagram).
For this first "Killing the Street in Tokyo" post, I have chosen Ueno as the first location to be featured. Ueno is a fun place to shoot in Tokyo, because of the diversity of its areas. While there is, of course, regular crowded and busy Japanese street, you also find a huge park and a bunch of super busy market streets, the Ameyoko Market. The busy and noisy streets of the market are for me one of the most challenging places in Tokyo to capture street images, but it's okay because I am always looking for a challenge. How about you? :)
Since my first trip to Tokyo (2006), I have always loved going to Ueno. I've shoot street photography there plenty of times, but before writing this quick article about the spot, I thought it would be essential to go back and hang around here and there a little more.
So I went back! Twice!
Four hundred different stores packed under a railway line. A big mix of seafood smell, cheap "made in China" clothes, shoe stores and noisy Pachinkos, that's roughly what you can expect when you walk through the market. There's a lot of good deals going on over there, and this attracts a lot of people, which makes this area quite fun to shoot for a streetog. In the evening, small restaurants and izakayas bring a completely different ambiance, and that's awesome too because if you get there late in the afternoon, you can shoot in two different ambiances.
Pay attention to the "NO PICTURE" signs. A lot of shops do not want tourist to take photos of their businesses. Japan is well known for its remarkable respect, so please act like a resident and respect the rules. There is no picture worth a confrontation, keep this in mind.
Going through most of the market streets takes about an hour. Consider stopping somewhere to eat some of the local food. It's an excellent way to spend more time in the area and create good picture opportunities as you get to sit outside for most of the food shop.
Home of the famous Ueno Zoo (there are Pandas there!), Ueno Park is a vast playground for street photographers who like to shoot in "concrete less" environment, while being in one of the biggest city in the world. The best time of the year to head to the parc is obviously during the Sakura season as it gets super pretty and colorful. Just like any other park in the world, it is a family destination where kids run and play, but it is also a homeless retreat. Avoid shooting both the kids and the homeless. Parents do not like to get their kid's picture taken without asking (that's fucking normal) and homeless people are often drunk and get pissed when you shoot them. Again be respectful and look for remarkable instances and anecdotes instead. Note that the park is very safe, just like anywhere in Japan.
Ueno station is one of the major stations in Tokyo. It is incredibly easy to get there. The station is huge though, so pay attention to the sign and exit numbers, if you don't want to exit the opposite way of your final destination.
Both the parc and the market street makes Ueno a fantastic place to take street photos. If ever you plan to travel to Tokyo, make Ueno one of your destination in the city. You won't regret it.
Before you go, make sure to follow my Instagram account! It is filled with street photos taken in Japan, you'll love it!
For those who are planning a trip to Japan, did you consider Nikko as one of your destinations? For many reasons, I think you should! If yes, I am waiting for you!
Thanks for reading.